Local Church Reopening After Major Foundation Project

Local Church Reopening After Major Foundation Project
A reopening ceremony at Taylorville United Methodist Church is planned for Sunday, Nov. 4 at 11 a.m. Photo by Bethany Hooper

BERLIN – Leaders at a local church are inviting community members to celebrate its reopening and to view artifacts from a 19th century time capsule that was discovered in the foundation of the building earlier this summer.

In May, construction crews doing preliminary work to replace the foundation at Taylorville United Methodist Church in Berlin discovered a tattered tin box containing a Bible, hymnal, account book and letters hidden within the building’s cornerstone. Many of the documents dated back to 1851, the year the church was erected.

The time capsule was a welcomed surprise to church leaders, who said they had no knowledge of the box’s existence.

“There was a cornerstone that was there originally,” church board member Bruce Clark said. “On the top of it was a little time capsule.”

After hearing of the discovery in the news, retired museum conservationist Linda Blaser – who owns a second home in Ocean Pines – said she reached out to the church and offered advice on how to preserve the documents.

“I worked in the field of preservation for 45 years,” she said. “I’m retired now and thought I could be of some help.”

Blaser said she was surprised to see that most of the items in the tattered time capsule were in relatively good condition.

“The materials seemed to be of high quality,” she said, “and were most likely linen or cotton paper.”

Blaser credited the wallpaper wrappings – which had suffered the most damage – for protecting the items within the box.

“They are in very good shape, and I was surprised at how dry everything was,” she said. “A lot of the handwriting on the inside was still clearly visible and you can see a lot of local names that were well known in the Ocean City area.”

Blaser said she was happy to assist in preserving the documents.

“For organizations, these documents are important in terms of learning about their history,” she said. “It’s giving them information on who donated to build the church and giving them a history on how the church came to be.”

Clark said a new, sealed container holding the 19th century books and letters, as well as pictures of its contents, will be on display at Taylorville’s reopening ceremony this Sunday, Nov. 4, at 11 a.m. Because the church was raised to replace the foundation, the congregation had been holding services in its adjacent social hall since June.

“We planned on being here sooner, and now we are just tickled to get in …,” he said. “We are a small church with a small income, but God knew the direction he wanted us to go in.”

Pastor Walt Crocker agreed.

“You would think we would never be able to do this,” he said. “But at each step, the right people and the right resources were there. We acknowledge God’s work in that regard.”

As part of the project, Crocker said the church’s original cornerstone was placed back into the foundation, along with a new time capsule put together by the congregation. He said the new box features a Bible, a signed hymnal, recipes, church documents and materials, and a USB flash drive that contains a history of Taylorville.

“Since the construction we have today is much sturdier, maybe they will never have to go underneath the church and find it,” he joked. “But I can imagine in 150 years from now, somebody will take the thumb drive out and say, ‘What is this?’”

Crocker noted that the time capsules are a testament to the church’s faithfulness.

“That capsule spoke to their faithfulness 150 years ago, and our capsule speaks of our faithfulness to future generations,” he said.

Clark agreed.

“I think it speaks to our endurance and our faith,” he said. “We have been a part of this community for 150-plus years, and we intend to be here in the future.”

Church leaders said the reopening ceremony to be held on Sunday, Nov. 4, at 11 a.m., followed by a luncheon in the church’s social hall, where artifacts from the original time capsule will be on display.

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.